Cynthia Wunsch is a long time friend of mine and one of the first people I consulted about using social media. I have asked her to take a few minutes to talk about her experience here. Make sure to check out her bliki (also on our blogroll under “Friends of Veribatim”) The Unlikely Entrepreneur. Cynthia is a musician, a teacher, a performer and an amazing networker. -Kat
Hi, my name is Cynthia, and I’m an Internet addict.
Okay, I’m not really an Internet addict, but you might be excused for thinking so. I sent my first email in 1972. I had an account on the fabled Killer machine. I planned for my first move to Europe by asking advice in soc.culture.czecho-slovak. And I knew about social networking when you had to be a warrior, healer, wizard or thief to participate.
What I want to get across to you is that the Internet makes my business more productive. Sure, I get emails from my clients, sometimes several times a week. But how I use the Internet really separates me from my competitors.
Example: online file storage. Most of my competitors require their clients to buy printed materials. My clients don’t need to buy anything, as I have approximately 8 million pages of resources online, that they can consult day or night, print (don’t worry, it’s all public domain!), or if they don’t have a printer, they can log onto my printer’s website and order it printed and pick it up at our next appointment. They can print out one page or a whole book, replace lost pages, etc. And because it’s secure, my clients can see only the files I let them have access to.
Example: online booking. I have booking set up to be automatic–my clients log in, request times, and get a reminder email or SMS message for each appointment. I get an email reminder. Appointments are not confirmed until I okay them, and I get an immediate email for cancellations. (I could get a SMS too, but I don’t really use my cell phone that much.)
Example: Bliki. A bliki is a hybrid of a blog and a wiki (think Wikipedia). My clients and colleagues contribute to my bliki, link posts together where they see fit, comment, and edit to add new information. They link old posts to new ones, new ones to old ones, blog posts to static pages and vice versa, and instead of a one-way communication, they get to participate in the process. This keeps my clients excited about being involved with me. They can ask questions and read the answers, talk with other clients, and they feel as if they are part of something much larger.
Example: Files. I inventory supplies on a program specifically designed for what I do. The developer gave it away for free for a 24-hour period. Each day I get to preview (and keep!) a new application.
Example: Automatic payment reminders. Each of my clients gets an email before their next payment is due, reminding them to bring the check. I don’t have to do anything except make one entry when they begin, and one when they leave.
Example: Social networking. Whether it’s microblogging, chat rooms, forums, Linked In, or Facebook, I can make connections all around the world with people in my industry or any other industry. If I need a resource, I can find it in minutes, by sending out a message targeted to the people most likely to have that resource, who already know something about me, and if they don’t know, can ask others on the sites for recommendations about me.
And what’s great about all this is, it costs me nothing out of pocket, and only a few minutes each month, if that. If you have a business and an Internet connection, and you’re doing emails, web sites, and a blog, you’re using only a tiny fraction of the possibilities available to you. Business today requires a different way of thinking, and unless you’re willing to adopt new methods, you’ll find yourself like my competitors–left in the dust, wondering what in the world happened!
And just so you know, my particular business is in a very traditional field. If you think this doesn’t apply to you because you don’t have a computer-based business, it’s time to rethink those basic concepts. Even as Internet-savvy as I am, there were things I was not doing as well as I could have. It was Kat Rice at Veribatim who helped me see the potential I had missed out on and taught me how to maximize my business by adding certain aspects of the Internet that I originally couldn’t see a use for. Yes, it definitely brings me new traffic to my website, which results in new business, but I also get new business simply by having a presence in some of these Internet circles.
So thanks, Kat. You’ve really helped my business and thanks to you, I’m adding improvements to my business each week that are leaving my competitors in the dust!Image from icanhascheezburger.com